Joan Gili

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Joan Gili i Serra, also known as John Gili, (1907 - 6 May 1998) was a Catalan antiquarian book-seller, publisher and translator.

Joan Gili was born in Barcelona in 1907. His father, Lluis Gili, ran a religious publishing house which also published a cookery book, Sabores, written by his mother, which became a bestseller. While working for his father's company, he developed an interest in English literature, which he wrote about in the Catalan newspaper La Publicitat.

In 1933, he was invited to visit England, and enjoyed the freedom he experienced there so much that he returned in 1934 to live. He opened the Dolphin Bookshop just off Charing Cross Road in London, specialising in Spanish and Latin American books and manuscripts. Some of the manuscripts on Spanish and Catalan history he collected are now in the Houghton Library at Harvard.

He began publishing books himself in 1938. These included textbooks and literary studies, and translations of Miguel de Unamuno, Luis Cernuda, Juan Ramón Jiménez and Pablo Neruda. In 1939, he and Stephen Spender translated a selection of Federico García Lorca’s poems, one of the first books to introduce Lorca to an English-speaking audience. In the 1950s, Penguin Books asked him to make prose translations of Lorca’s poems; this bilingual edition was a significant influence on several generations of poets and schoolchildren.

A special interest of his was the Catalan language, which at this time was largely suppressed by the Spanish...
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